THE LAW - WVRA
WASHINGTON VOTING RIGHTS ACT = POWER
The Washington Voting Rights Act (WVRA) was signed into law in 2018 (picture above) to ensure that every voter has an equal opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice to local government positions.
Across Washington state, election systems have failed to keep up with the changing makeup of our cities, counties, and school districts. To make things worse, racist and power hungry politicians have created election rules that divide us by purposefully taking power from communities of color, leaving us with less representation in our government. The WVRA is a tool to fight back - increasing the power and representation of our communities by providing protections for voters and fixing unfair election rules.
We have had qualified and experienced candidates of color run for a position on the Yakima County commission. But unfortunately they have been unsuccessful. The problem is our current at-large election system because it all but guarantees that we will not be able to elect a candidate of our choice. Without equitable representation, we can't meaningfully participate in the democratic process.
Only if we are represented by a commissioner of OUR choice will we see investment in OUR communities. This is how democracy works.
HOW WE'VE TAKEN ACTION
Four Yakima county residents, in collaboration with the Campaign Legal Center and OneAmerica, sent the county a letter of notice telling them that they are in violation of the Washington Voting Rights Act, and that they want to be represented in our county commission by a candidate of their choice. We are asking them to change the way we elect the county commissioners and are proposing equitable representation through a voting system called Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). Changing the current voting system to RCV would ensure that at least one of our three commissioners is a candidate of our choice.
The commission had until July 13 to respond to our letter but they did not. The Commission had the opportunity to seek a voluntary solution, but they failed to follow through, conduct outreach to the community or suggest a solution and instead ran down the clock. In doing so, they failed the community.
Therefore, on July 13th Yakima County residents took a step to hold the Yakima County Commission legally accountable to respect the voting rights of the Latino community and all Yakima residents and filed a suit. Read the complaint here. We held a virtual event to share the news and the plaintiffs shared their personal stories around the need for this action. Click here to watch the recording of the event.
We hope to continue to work with the commission to implement a voting system that allows equitable opportunity to elect candidates of our choice in Yakima County. We believe that together, with our county, we can create a just democratic system that meets the needs of all county residents via a Ranked Choice Voting system.
This campaign is led by Yakima County Residents in collaboration with Campaign Legal Center (CLC) , OneAmerica, and More Equitable Democracy.